June Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

Our ministry theme for June is restlessness. I’d like to offer an excerpt from one of my meditations in Hear the Earth Call entitled, “Beyond the Safety of Our Well-worn Paths.” I think it speaks to an inherent restlessness in each of us—a restlessness that often surfaces in summer.

In this summer season / may we journey beyond the safety of our well-worn paths, / beyond our customs and habits, / beyond the comfort of our regular lives.

In this summer season / may we discover new creativity, new fervor, new insight; / may we discover in ourselves the spirit of the child that knows no limits and no boundaries, / the child who, every day, imagines the impossible / and sets off to achieve it.

In this summer season, /may we explore the borders of our lives, / the edges and the unformed spaces, / the wildernesses / the still wild places.

In this summer season, / may we establish new patterns where we have been longing for different ways of being, / new paths to go places our old paths will not take us.

In this summer season / may we discard old customs and habits if they have dulled our senses, / silenced our voice, / hidden our truth, / cooled our passions.

In this summer season / may we challenge ourselves to overcome any unnecessary limits we’ve set for ourselves, / to break through any unnecessary lines we have drawn around ourselves, to transgress any boundaries we’ve set for ourselves.

In this summer season / May we explore the borders or our lives, / where difference is welcome, / where tension and conflict are welcome, / where even a small dose of chaos is welcome, / where, in the midst of all of it, wisdom grows / and creativity thrives.

In this summer season, / may we explore the borders of our lives, / where nothing is quite as fixed as we’d assumed, / where old orthodoxies fail, / where order is tentative, / where simple dualisms just don’t work, / where pointless rigidities are the butt of jokes, / where mixing and merging and morphing take place, / where old selves give way and new selves emerge. / where we are compelled to find common ground with our neighbors, / where we build, however we can, the beloved community, where we remember—because sometimes we forget—that we are related to the whole of life.

In this summer season / May we / journey, / discover, / create, / practice, / discard, / break through. / transgress, / challenge, / explore, / and remember.

Amen and blessed be.

I know there is much to worry about in the world these days. I know there is much that weighs on all our hearts. It is my fondest hope that in this coming summer season, you find time to feed your restlessness—to be the person you feel called to be.

With love,

–Rev. Josh

Emergency Preparedness #7

Emergency Preparedness #7

Storm Damage

Our newly authorized Emergency Operations Plan defines actions to be taken when a critical situation occurs on the property. This “all hazards plan” identifies twelve situations that could risk personal safety or property damage. Each emergency situation is designated as an annex with specific instructions. Let’s now look at Annex E: Storm Damage.

DID YOU KNOW…

… procedures have been in place for years to learn of impending storms and alert members when the facilities are going to be closed? Do you know where to go to learn this information?

DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO IF THERE IS STORM DAMAGE?

The following procedures are to be followed:

  1. Learn of the cancellation of services or meetings held at the building, and stay away during any storm.
  2. After the storm is over, and if damage is found, contact the sexton if not already aware of this.
  3. Early decisions will be made and announced to repair any damage.
  4. Members will be notified when the building is again available for use.

That was easy! Use the time saved by staying home to review the Emergency Response Plan for other, more complicate actions for different hazards!

May Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

At the UUS:E annual meeting on May 20 at 1:00, the Policy Board will ask the congregation to approve the following vision statement:

Unitarian Universalist Society: East will be home to a spiritually alive, richly diverse and growing congregation. We will send forth energy, spirit and strength into our beloved communities. We will love, be present to suffering, comfort, heal, bear witness to oppression, and boldly work toward social and environmental justice.

I want to express my gratitude to Anne Carr, Tammy Stolzman, Rhona Cohen and David Garnes who crafted the original drafts of this statement. Moreover, I want to express my gratitude to our UUS:E leadership team, who met in September for a day of visioning with UUA consultant, Jacki Shanti.

I also want to remind all of us that at the heart of our visioning process was a commitment to countering white supremacy within Unitarian Universalism. For a brief reminder of the way white supremacy operates within Unitarian Universalism, please see my sermon from May 7, 2017, “White Supremacy Teach-In” at http://uuse.org/white-supremacy-teach-in/. That sermon pointed out how the voices of People of Color remain largely on the margins of Unitarian Universalist institutional life. After I preached that sermon, someone asked about our visioning process. “If a group of mostly white people crafts a vision for the future of our mostly white congregation, and if the voices of People of Color remain on the margins of, or are absent from, that process, then what prevents our vision statement from perpetuating white supremacy?” It was a fabulous question.

In response, we invited five People of Color leaders from Hartford and Manchester to speak to our UUS:E leadership team about their vision for the region, and the role they feel UUS:E can play in achieving that vision. We crafted our proposed vision statement in response to the voices of People of Color leaders. We “centered” People of Color voices.

I love the finished product. I love it not only because we used an explicitly anti-racist process to create it; but also because it says “we will love.” This language came from Pamela Moore Selders, a founder of Moral Monday CT and a Black Lives Matter leader. On the evening before our visioning session, she challenged us to first and foremost love ourselves—to take pride in ourselves, to care about each other, to celebrate each other. She’s right. If we envision ourselves bringing love into the wider community, we need to begin by cultivating a deep and profound love among ourselves. That’s a vision that makes my heart sing!

Spiritually alive, richly diverse and growing? That, too, is a vision that makes my heart sing! There are actions we can take to achieve this vision.

Sending forth energy, spirit and strength into our beloved communities? That’s a vision that makes my heart sing! There are actions we can take to achieve this vision.

We will love, be present to suffering, comfort, heal, bear witness to oppression, and boldly work toward social and environmental justice. That’s a vision that makes my heart sing! There are actions we can take to achieve this vision.

I hope your heart sings too!Rev. Joshua Pawelek

With love,

–Rev. Josh

Emergency Preparedness #6

Emergency Preparedness #6

Disturbed Person with a Weapon

Our newly authorized Emergency Operations Plan defines actions to be taken when a critical situation occurs on the property. This “all hazards plan” identifies twelve situations that could risk personal safety or property damage. Each emergency situation is designated as a separate annex with specific instructions. Let’s next look at Annex D: Disturbed Person with a Weapon.

DID YOU KNOW?

The average time an incident with an armed shooter lasts is only 7 minutes? Did you know that most fatalities from this situation are people lying still trying to hide?

DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO IF THERE IS AN ARMED PERSON WHO IS DISTURBED?

Do you remember when you first learned to drive a car? No one would think of taking a driver’s test after just reading an instruction manual. You first take driving lessons. And practice driving.

The following procedures are to be followed (Follow A.L.I.C.E. = Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate):

  1. Alert others throughout the building that a shooter is present.
  2. Lockdown by barricading the room you are in, staying out of view and remaining quiet.
  3. Inform authorities by calling 911
  4. Counter if the shooter is present by throwing hymnals, chairs and other objects, and by creating a lot of noise to distract and confuse the shooter. Close in if possible to disarm the person.
  5. Evacuate when safe to do so.
  6. Follow instructions of identified police officers directing you where to go as you leave the building.

The tabletop exercise reenactment held on January 28, 2018, demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach. Future exercises will be held to properly train staff, leaders, members, and visitors. It will only work if most people know how to act quickly.

Surcari Concert

Sucari

Photo Copyright 2017 Lorena Garay

Sunday, April 29 at 4 PM

at Unitarian Universalist Society: East

Surcari is a performance group originally from Chile and Puerto Rico, under the direction of guitarist Lorena Garay. They perform a blend of traditional and original Latin American music on a wide variety of musical instruments.

Tickets will go on sale starting on April 8 after church services and will also be available at the door.

Prices are $20 adults, $18 seniors and youth, $10 ages 10-18 and under 10 free. Please notify Sue McMillen if child care is needed by April 22.

http://www.lorenagaray.com/surcari.html

The We Remember Rally

April 4, 4:00 PM
CT Supreme Court Building

In observance of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., people from around the state will gather for a “We Remember” rally. Along with similar rallies across the country, we will be announcing the rebirth of Rev. King’s Poor People’s Campaign, and calling for our state and our nation to finally and seriously address the root causes of poverty.

The rally begins at 4:00 PM on April 4th outside the CT Supreme Court building, and will continue with various activities until approximately 7:00 PM. Questions? Contact Rev. Josh Pawelek at revpawelek@gmail.com or 860-652-8961.

April Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

I want to share my learnings from the March 18th “On Being a Sanctuary Congregation” presentation by the Rev. Paul Fleck, along with members of the UU Church of Meriden and First and Summerfield Methodist Church, New Haven. It was a powerful and inspiring presentation, attended not only by UUS:E members and friends but also by members of at least three other local congregations.

First, I learned about the urgent need to provide sanctuary, especially in our region where no congregation is yet doing so. Deportations have increased dramatically in the last year. Most discouragingly, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is now deporting people who don’t have criminal convictions; who have minor children who are U.S. citizens; who are primary breadwinners for or caregivers to family members who are citizens; who are married to citizens; who have been living and working in the U.S., paying taxes, and contributing to their communities for decades; or who came to the U.S. to escape ecological disaster or political or gang persecution in their home countries. The federal government’s treatment of such people is immoral and disgraceful. As a Unitarian Universalist who affirms the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and justice, equity and compassion in human relations, I can no longer tolerate witnessing this escalation in deportations, this breaking apart of families, this returning innocent people to extreme poverty, hardship, and even death. If we, as the Unitarian Universalist Society: East, can help such people avoid deportation, I am convinced we should do it.

And I am convinced we can do it! Why? First, our building is incredibly well-suited for this purpose. We have a shower, laundry facilities, 2 kitchens, 6 bathrooms, and lots of rooms. Wherever we might house someone, it would be slightly disruptive to the normal flow of our congregational life; but it would be a small price to pay for living out our principles.

Second, we can set clear parameters around the terms of our sanctuary offer. This is not an open-ended housing arrangement. It is only a last resort for someone who is about to be deported. If we offer sanctuary to an individual or family, we can (and truly must) confirm that they have competent legal counsel and that we are providing housing only while they have active legal options in progress. If their legal options become exhausted, then they would be forced to leave the country. They would not stay with us in perpetuity.

Third, we won’t be in this effort alone. There are a number of networks providing support and funding for immigrants facing deportation. Already, the leaders of United for a Safe and Inclusive Community, Manchester, have pledged their support for UUS:E if we choose to go this route. Participants in the March 18th presentation said they were overwhelmed with the outpouring of community support and funding. The UU Church of Meriden is projecting a surplus of sanctuary funds once their current guests have resolved their legal issues.

Finally, the Meriden and New Haven congregations said they have found sanctuary work to be life- and faith-affirming. They have made new connections in their communities, including with the police, and their congregations feel alive and inspired.

Of course, this is a congregational decision. The Policy Board is currently discerning next steps. It is likely we will establish a Sanctuary Committee that will be responsible for creating a plan that can be quickly executed in the event we are called on to offer sanctuary. If you are interested in working with such a committee, please let me know. Also, I am very interested in hearing the opinions of people who have reservations about becoming a sanctuary congregation, and I welcome your feedback at revpawelek@gmail.com or 860-652-8961.Rev. Joshua Pawelek

With love,

–Rev. Josh

Andrew McKnight Concert

Andrew McKnight

April 15, 2018, at 7 PM

Andrew McKnight is an Americana artist. He performs songs and tells stories influenced by old-time Appalachia to contemporary blues and folk, all backed up by his dead-on guitar playing.

Tickets go on sale starting on March 25 after church services and will also be available at the door.

Prices are $20 adults, $18 seniors and youth, $10 ages 10-18 and under 10 free. Please notify Sue McMillen if child care is needed by April 8.

http://www.andrewmcknight.net/index/

Unitarian Universalist Society: East, 153 Vernon St. West, Manchester, CT
www.uuse.org 860-646-5151

Click here for the poster or for more information about Andrew McKnight, visit http://andrewmcknight.net/ 

Peas & Love Community Garden

Calling All Green Thumbs! 

We will be holding the first organizational meeting for the Unitarian Universalist Society: East  “Peas & Love Community Garden” on Sunday, March 25, 1:00-2:30 in the Spirit Play Room. Produce grown will be donated to a local food pantry, and we need volunteers to help out. Interested in learning more? Bring your skills, energy, and positive spirit! Don’t have the time to volunteer? We will happily accept any tools you no longer need (eg., shovel, spade, fork, flower pots, etc.). Contact Mary Lawrence, wellonwheels@hotmail.com860-985-1645 for more information.

Sunday, March 25, 1:00-2:30 in the Spirit Play Room.

Emergency Preparedness #5

Emergency Preparedness #5

Exercises

Our newly created Emergency Operations Plan defines actions to be taken when a critical situation occurs on the property. But the plan is useless unless people know what to do!

DID YOU KNOW?

When an emergency strikes, no one will know where the plan is located! How do we use the plan if we can’t find it? Training, yes, but did you know there is a better way to learn than by listening to a boring lecture? Exercises!

DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO IN AN EMERGENCY?

Do you remember when you first learned to drive a car? No one would think of taking a driver’s test after just reading an instruction manual. You first take driving lessons. And practice driving.

We will n0w shift our training of the Emergency Response Plan by using exercises. The goal is to have more than 80% of the members receive this training in the months ahead. There will be multiple opportunities offered.

  • Tabletop Exercises—where a group talks through responses to scenarios. Time is allowed for discussion and the written plan is used to explore alternatives.
  • Functional Exercises—groups act out responses without looking at the plan. No one can make a mistake, however, because guidance will be provided along the way.

Exercises can be fun! They also will save lives and reduce the risks of property damage. Come join!